December 06, 2023

Thoughts on Hosting an Eco-Chic Holiday Party

maaterra compostable palm leaf plates on a holiday table setting.

These days, I celebrate the holidays much differently. Now that my children are older, excessive presents and lavish parties are a thing of the past. I see holiday celebrations as a time to bring loved ones together, not more stuff. I avoid wasteful decorations and favor more sophisticated, sustainable details that set the right mood for more meaningful conversations. Hosting a holiday party that is as eco-friendly as it is chic may sound challenging, but I find that with thoughtful planning and attention to detail, it's more than achievable. Here are my 5 recommendations.

1. Eco-Chic Invitations

Instead of paper invitations, I opt for elegant digital cards. Not only do they reduce paper waste, but they also offer endless design possibilities. I encourage my guests to RSVP online as well, which eliminates the need for printed RSVP cards. Another idea is to attach a charitable component to the invitations, pledging to donate to an environmental cause for every RSVP received.

2. A Seasonal and Local Feast
I try to focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, supporting nearby farmers and reducing the carbon footprint of the meal–from crisp autumn apples to rich winter squash. If I’m including seafood, I opt for local sustainably sourced options to support responsible fishing practices and protect marine ecosystems. I also try to highlight plant-based dishes featuring seasonal vegetables, grains, and legumes like stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and roasted autumn vegetables. For dessert, I focus on treats made from locally harvested fruits, like an apple crisp in the fall. 

3. Sustainable Centerpieces
Centerpieces are a vital element of any upscale party, but there are ways to make them eco-friendly without sacrificing sophistication. I usually forgo the traditional floral arrangements and opt for something seasonal such as an elegant centerpiece made of squash. When the party's over, you can upcycle these gourds into a sustainable soup. Beautifully arranged potted plants or succulents that can be reused time and time again are also a great sustainable option.

4. Eco-Conscious Beverages
When it comes to beverages, I look for sustainable options that exude sophistication. Some examples include organic, locally produced wines and craft beers that celebrate the region's terroir while respecting the earth as well as craft cocktails, mocktails and juices using seasonal fruits and herbs, such as a mulled apple cider in the fall. I serve filtered tap water in elegant reusable glass pitchers to avoid bottled water. If you’re looking for a sparkling option, try using Sodastream to craft your own seltzer.

5. Enlightened Lighting
I know that the right lighting is vital to creating the appropriate atmosphere. I opt for energy-efficient LED light bulbs that provide beautiful, warm illumination while reducing energy consumption. I try to complement these with non-toxic candles featuring sustainable materials such as cotton or wooden wicks, soy or beeswax, and fragrances derived from essential oils or natural botanicals. These eco-friendly candles not only add an elegant touch but also create a cozy and inviting ambiance. Solar-powered LED string lights to illuminate outdoor areas is another great way to add a touch of sustainable elegance. These lights charge during the day and provide a soft, enchanting glow in the evening without consuming electricity. You can even get creative with upcycled materials to craft unique, charming luminaries or lanterns, such as mason jars, wine bottles, or reclaimed wood. I also recommend using dimmer switches on all of these lighting options. Not only does dimming the lights set the right mood, it saves energy as well. 

Since I’ve started throwing these parties, I’ve found that they’re not only better for the planet, they’re also preferable for the host–whether that’s in the convenience of reusing a centerpiece, the enjoyment of a craft beverage, or the health implications of toxin-free candles. Gone are the days of excessive, lavish decorations. While I care about creating the right atmosphere for my guests, these days, I’m more interested in nurturing my relationship with them and the planet. I hope you can use this post to do the same.

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